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Shootings Cause 11% of Youths' Deaths, Study Finds

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Washington--Shootings accounted for 11 percent of all deaths among children in 1987, and the number of such deaths among teenagers is increasing, a new study has found.

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control's national center for health statistics, 3,392 young people between the ages of 1 and 19 died in 1987 from a gun-related injury.

Black male teenagers were particularly at risk, the report notes. More than 40 percent of all youth firearm deaths involved black males, compared with 16 percent involving white males.

The CDC report indicates that the proportion of firearm deaths is significantly greater among older children. About 1 percent of deaths among children ages 1-4 were firearm-related, but shootings caused more than 17 percent of deaths among 15- to 19-year-olds.

Among children under 9 who died of a bullet wound, half were ruled homicides, half accidents.

But among teenagers 15 and older, homicides represented 48 percent of the firearm deaths; suicides, 42 percent; and accidents, 8 percent.

According to the report, teenage boys were six times more likely than teenage girls to die from a gunshot wound. Of all the suicide deaths among males ages 10 to 19, 60 percent involved a gun.

The report notes there has been little change in the overall firearm mortality rate in 20 years, except among teenagers. In 1968, teenagers died of gunshot wounds at a rate of 10.1 per 100,000. In 1987, the rate was 14.7 per 100,000.

Homicides among white male teenagers has ranked third behind motor-vehicle injuries and suicide as the most common cause of death for the past two decades. Yet, among black male teenagers, homicide has been the leading cause of death.

Firearms are connected with 75 percent to 80 percent of all homicides of black male teenagers, the report states. And, from 1984 to 1987, the firearm homicide rate increased by 66 percent among that group.


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